TRIANGULAR SLAVE TRADE
Refers to that type of trade that involve three continents America, Africa and Europe.
ORIGIN OF TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE
The Portuguese were the first foreigners to capture slaves off the coast of West Africa. They built a fort on Arguin Island (Mauritania) where they bought gold and slaves from Gambia and Senegal.
Most of these slaves were taken to plantations in Portugal and Southern Spain.
By 1471, the Portuguese expanded their gold and slave trading activities to Ghana. In 1482, they built Elmina castle to serve as their base there.
COMMODITIES OF EXCHANGE
The major commodities of exchange in the triangular trade were;
<> AFRICA – Exported slaves, gold, ivories and animal skins.
<> AMERICA- exported sugar, cotton, Tobacco, Gold and Silver.
<> EUROPE – Supplied manufactured goods such as clothes, gunpowder, glassware, sugar and tobacco.
FACTORS FOR THE RISE OF TRIANGULAR SLAVE TRADE
1. The rise of capitalism
This mode of production depended on exploitation of one man by another. Capitalism emerged in Europe after the decline of feudalism in Europe especially the first stage of capitalism mercantilism where slaves became part of the commodities to be traded to accumulate wealth.
2. Discovery of marine technology
The invention of gunpowder, shipbuilding, compass direction, and motor engine acted as a pushing force for the rise of slave trade, it facilitated the transportation of the commodities and slave dealers.
3. The discovery of the new world
On 24 October 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered a new world that opened a new chapter as far as slave trade was concerned it brought high sky demand of cheap labor to work in the new plantations in the Caribbean islands.
4. The profitability factor
This acted as an attracting force for many mercantilists to join a trade based on unequal exchange imagine exchanging human being with spices, umbrella, gold, ivory with guns, mirrors and cloth.
5. Accumulation of wealth
Mercantilists accumulated a lot from this trade which enabled them to sustain super profits obtained and in addition to that, many crops could not be sold for profit, or even grown in Europe.
6. The expensiveness of White slaves
Before the mid of 17th century the European mercantilists depended on indentured labourers, criminal convicts, contract labourers and refugees from Europe who proved to be expensive and undependable compared to Africans who were not paid anything apart from their basic needs for survival and were slaves for life.
7. The establishment of plantations
After the discovery of the new world, many Europeans flocked to America; these included the British, French, Portuguese and the Dutch. Many of these immigrants established plantations that caused more demand for slave labor. The increased demand contributed to the development of Trans–Atlantic slave trade.
The accessibility between the new world and the West African coast facilitated the rise of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The distance from West Africa to the new world is very narrow thus it made it possible for the transportation of goods between the two regions.
9. The inability of the indigenous people
At first the Europeans were using Native Americans, red Indians to provide cheap labor on the plantations and mining centers; but these later died in huge numbers due to plague. This called for the importation of African slaves which contributed to the rise of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
10. Climatic conditions of the New World
Meant that Africans could easily live there since they were used to tropical climates and had immunity of tropical diseases more than people from Europe and Asia. They were able to withstand diseases and conditions of the New World.
11. The existence of seasonal winds
Like the northeast trade wind, north equatorial current, the southwest and the Gulf streams encouraged the growth of this trade by enabling the vessels of the merchants to sail to Africa, New World and Europe.
IMPACT OF THE TRIANGULAR SLAVE TRADE
A: ECONOMIC EFFECTS
1. Removal of African labor
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was associated with the uprooting of many Africans who were taken to provide cheap labor on European plantations in America. The ones who were taken were between the ages of 15 and 35 who made up the productive force in Africa.
2. Stagnation of African technology
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade contributed to the stagnation of African technology. It led to the flooding of European manufactured goods which were exchanged for slaves.
3. Decline of African agricultural production
There was decline in agricultural production due to the loss of labor. Those who were taken as slaves were the ones who were very active in farms, thus their removal led to shortage of labor consequently causing the decline in agricultural production.
4. Decline of African traditional industries
Due to these goods Africans abandoned production and exchanged their fellow Africans with the Europeans goods. The manufactured goods from Europe also destroyed African traditional industries by killing the market for African local goods.
5. Land alienation
Africans were robbed of their best arable land and were turned into serfs and tenants who had to sell off their labor to Arab landowners for their survival. Watumbatu and Waamidu provided their labor in coconut and cloves plantations.
B: SOCIAL EFFECTS
It led to depopulation because millions of Africans were uprooted and exported to America as cheap labor. It is believed that during the 400 years of slave trade, around 100,000,000 Africans were taken as slaves.
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade contributed to famine in Africa. The trade was characterized with insecurity because of slave trading activities, the insecurity made it difficult for people to engage in agricultural production.
3. Destruction of African culture
The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was associated with an influx of foreigners especially Europeans. This led to a destruction of African traditional values because Africans were coping European culture.
4. Separation of families
Some abandoned their homes due to insecurity, some died while trying to escape and some were taken away as slaves.
C: POLITICAL EFFECTS
1. Decline of states
Some states declined because they were weakened when their subjects were captured and sold as slaves. For example, Wanyasa were greatly weakened by frequent slave raids from their Yao neighbors.
2. The rise of states
Some strong states arose due to accumulation of wealth from slave trade. E.g., the Yao state under Machemba, Nyamwezi under Mirambo and Buganda kingdom under KabakaMutesa.